Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk - Curious Sanctuary

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She Tried To Hide The Lizards In Her Hair, 2010 Acrylic On Canvas 36 X 36 Inches © Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk
Women In Piles Of Wood Waiting To Burn, 2010 Acrylic On Canvas 40 X 30 Inches © Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk
She Listened to the Bird Sing Until Bees Came Out of Its Mouth, 2011 Acrylic On Canvas 40 X 30 Inches © Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk
She Loved Her Hat But Her Body Was Made Of Moths, 2010 Acrylic On Canvas 48 X 36 Inches
Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk - Curious Sanctuary

132A Eldridge Street
10002 New York
January 29th, 2011 - March 19th, 2011
Opening: January 29th, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

east village/lower east side
Tue-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5
surrealism, figurative, traditional


Woodward Gallery welcomes Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s “Curious Sanctuary” from January 29 - March 19, 2011.  A brilliant painter who seemingly channels the late 19th century, Van Ouwerkerk’s women are intriguing and complicated. Her characters show their personal state of being and engage in ritualistic scenes carried out in special places. They push the acceptable boundaries of a time long ago - or perhaps even today - and tempt us to become voyeurs.


This body of work is a view into these women’s private day-to-day existence. “My paintings are not intended to be fantasies; everything is actually as you see it.”  One woman thinks she hears women whispering above her in a cavernous room.  The women are real as far as the subject is concerned.


Sanctuaries are private places not meant to be seen by the public. If you could see in, like an invisible voyeur, everything would appear surprising, not easily understood. Very formal and exactly what you would expect on the outside - a woman poses in her nightgown and new hat, yet behind closed doors, her nightgown is slightly open and you catch a glimpse of her body made of moths.


The images are unexpected at first glance. You are looking into someone’s room or looking at a moment in her life without a back story. By not analyzing what she is thinking, you accept everything as real. The painting of women gathering at piles of wood while one gets ready to be set on fire, is not necessarily terrifying as no one seems to be frightened. There is calm resignation on the face of the woman in the foreground in that very moment the character looks outward.


Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s characters are seen for the one frame of their story. Her vision broadens our reference for normal. We follow marvelously entranced in their personal and curious situations.